Flights out of Tokyo were stopped right after the quake hit and that stranded many Americans for awhile.
On Saturday at O'Hare International Airport, family members and friends waited anxiously for United Flight #882 to arrive from Tokyo with earthquake survivors.
The flight was almost an hour late.
George Navarro of Grand Rapids, Mich., came in to surprise his son Aaron, who is in the Navy and was on a train on his way to the airport in Tokyo when the earthquake struck.
Father and son are finally re-united after a year.
"It was pretty scary at first, felt a slight tremor at first, and then all of the sudden the train started turning like a funhouse deal. Everyone was kind of like panicking, and the train stopped. And we sat there for a couple of hours," Aaron Navarro said.
Other survivors appeared overwhelmed from what they had just experienced.
"It was pretty intense," said August Astroth of North Carolina. "I was happy to get out. They worked hard to get us here."
"It was the most scary situation I have ever seen in my life. We were in a building and everything started to shake," said Tom Gruger of Evanston, Ill.
"The Japanese people have really suffered. They have shown great character. They have helped people like me, who don't understand these events. I found them very helpful," said Kevin Brady of Cary, Ill.
Thomas Brown of Michigan was greeted by his fiancee. He had been in Japan for nine weeks as part of a crew working on a nuclear plant.
"They are still there. I was able to get out," Brown said. "We have to hope and pray everything is alright and we get the rest of the crew back home."
"I am happy he is home," said Brown's fiancee Alex Parker.
Brown had left the area hit hardest earlier in the day Friday.
He says the train and train station he started on are now gone.
There were a number of people who could not talk to us because they were so shaken by what they experienced.
They just wanted to get home.